Uganda has made strides over years to increase access to education for all citizens. As of 2015, the adult literacy rate for Uganda stood at 73.8 %. Historic imbalances and cultural attitudes have long locked women and girls out of formal education. Measures like free primary education and awareness of importance of equal access to education opportunities for both girls and boys worked to improve enrolment at primary level. However the enrolment and retention of girls in school beyond primary school remains a challenge. Some reports show that only 22 out of the 100 girls aged 13 to 18 years access secondary education which leaves a wider gap even with the existence of the limited Universal Secondary Education.
The percentage of girls joining secondary is lower than that of boys and females without formal education double males. To compound the kind of challenges still faced, recent figures from Uganda Bureau of Statistics show that 25 percent of adolescents age 15-19 in Uganda have begun childbearing.
Over the last two days I have been startled by Uganda sanitation statistics and how the country loses a lot of money and time to treatment of diseases, which are preventable. One person suggested that may be it is a matter of people in finance not being able to make the link that prevention costs us way less than treatment dedicated to 75% of disease burden from poor sanitation.
With about a thousand days to the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) deadline, some 780 million people will still not have access to improved water supply and many countries including Uganda are going to miss the targets for sanitation. About 2.5 billion people worldwide still do not have access to improved sanitation. About 1 billion people still defecate in the open and Uganda contributes 3.2 million to this figure.
A while back, a friend returned from a funeral of one the big men from his village. The man had served as a minister in one of past regimes and had generally lived a good life. My friend’s story from the big man’s funeral wasn’t about the pomp, which many often try to put up even at funerals in our rich world. It was about one shocking aspect of the man’s life. This big man had lived in Kampala and kept his village home like most Ugandans do but to the surprise of my friend this big man’s village home where he was buried had had no toilet/latrine facilities. The only standing structure had been quickly erected at the news of his passing.
I was reminded of this story at a sanitation meeting that is taking place in Kampala, which brought participants from 21 countries.
When I first saw the theme “unclogging the blockages” I wondered if we had even anything blocked in the first place. Contrary to held myths that open-air defecation is done by poor people, this story of the big man shows that shit matters in Uganda are everyone’s problem.
It is been tough months, the kind of tough I wouldn’t easily put down on paper! I am sure the last two weeks you read and re-read articles about life and the passing of former South African president and anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela. I quietly read a lot too.
I wrote this small piece for Radio Netherlands Worldwide about what I thought of his life and legacy. I hope you still find it interesting.
I was barely 11 years old when Mandela was released from 27 years of inhuman incarceration. At home we didn’t have a TV and I bet that my day – that great day in history – went on like any other day of an 11 year old in rural Uganda.
Many years later, I would read of President Mandela saying: “The curious beauty about African music is that it uplifts even as it tells a sad story.” It reminded me of my childhood and how music introduced many of us to the apartheid and the evils in South Africa. The songs of Miriam Makeba and Lucky Dube would be danced to in my village, but they also sparked passionate discussions.
In the village of Rupa, about 40 minutes drive from the regional town of Moroto, I met 11 year-old Clementina Loduk . I had gone there with a group of academicians interested in the development of the region at the beginning of July. This was my second trip to a region, which remains largely unknown to many Ugandans. I asked someone in the group to tell me the last story they had seen in the national media about Karamoja and many couldn’t point out any. Later we had a meeting at one of the villages.
Ahead of the meeting of leaders of world’s major economies the G8, the British Prime Minister David Cameron announced the G8 and 15 developing countries have agreed to work together to make sure that “the poorest people benefit from their country’s natural resources, by improving the transparency of their extractive industries and land rights.”
The G8 which includes US, UK, Russia, Japan, Canada, Italy, Germany and France plays a big role in extractives industry in African countries.
Mr Cameron made the announcement during a panel session with African leaders at the Open for Growth on 15 June 2013. Of the 15 countries, 8 developing countries will be focused on improving the extractives sector while 7 are on land rights.
This seeming shift of G8 countries from aid to improving trade may be driven by various factors – increased Chinese penetration in African extractives industry and also the non-sustainability of the aid model for both receiving and donor countries as donor countries have been hit by the economic crisis.
This week I am working with the IFCampaign at the G8 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The G8 leaders are discussing trade, taxes and Transparency and a good deal of parternships will be announced regarding G8 countries and role in developing countries. I will be blogging about any initiatives. This is the first in the series of blogs.
In May 2012, a few months before he passed away, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi while attending the World Economic Forum on Africa was asked a question that intrigues most African citizens. Why do African leaders- revolutionaries turn to looting their own countries once in power? The brainy later leader of Ethiopia responded by highlighting foreign corporations’ role in impoverishing Africa. He hinted that African leaders, in their quest to find jobs for an increasing unemployed population, were being held hostage by corporations that come in to invest.
I got off the Bangkok Airways flight at Yangon International Airport. At the arrivals, the long line for visas on arrival welcomes me and after an hour i get my visa. Things are a little slower than most places I have visited. So much paper work!!
I am in Myanmar for the Global Young Leaders forum run by the World Economic Forum. The Forum will take place on the sides of World Economic Forum on East Asia both in Yango (Rangoon) and Nay Pyi Taw. I read in the Myanmar Times that the gathering of about 900 delegates will be the largest gathering the country has hosted in 20 years. I had read from ForeignPolicy a few days before that “between 1900 and 1990, gross domestic product (GDP) growth increased at no more than 1.6 percent a year — half of the rate of the rest of the world.”
From BBC I had read “from 1962 to 2011, Myanmar was ruled by a military junta that suppressed almost all dissent and wielded absolute power in the face of international condemnation and sanctions.” And i also have a Burmese friend who has been at the forefront working with dissents in the diaspora since late 1990s.
As I go deeper into the Myanmar Times pages, I find an MTN advert and all the talk is invest in this, invest in that. It’s a country that has been closed to the world for long and now everybody is rushing. Everybody talks of how much opportunity exists. MTN is here because for the first time the government is going liberalize the telecom sector.
US is about to pump in a lot of money after decades of isolating the country. Myanmar has oil, gas, timber and minerals. Its a market of over 60 million people.
As we drive past the Yagon University, the driver smiles brightly and tells me Obama came to the university on his visit recently.
As we close in to my hotel, I realize how heavy it’s been raining and it trained for most of my first 48 hours in Myanmar.
Uganda remained at the 110th position out of the 144 countries in the Global Information Technology Report 2013.
The Networked Readiness Index, calculated by the World Economic Forum, and INSEAD, ranks 144 economies based on:
their capacity to exploit the opportunities offered by the digital age. This capacity is determined by the quality of the regulatory, business and innovation environments, the degree of preparedness, the actual usage of ICTs, as well as the societal and economic impacts of ICTs. The assessment is based on a broad range of indicators from Internet access and adult literacy to mobile phone subscriptions and the availability of venture capital. In addition, indicators such as patent applications and e-government services gauge the social and economic impact of digitization.